Twenty Brief Comments on Deciphering “The Force Awakens”

December 28, 2015 – We think it safe, now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been showing for the last ten days, to make some brief comments about this record-breaking movie (one billion dollars and climbing!).

The hallmark of a successful movie is to leave the audience debating among themselves, raising intelligent questions, and instilling a hunger among viewers for more. In fact there is a good chance you have watched TFA more than once, and your brain is still wrapped in a Kylo-Ren-viselike grip, tortured by the pain of not knowing and not being able to decipher the heiroglyphics.

TFA Heiroglyphics
So what follows are 20 questions (or sometimes just comments) about Episode VII. Future articles may expand on some of the meatier questions, especially if they are generating widespread buzz and are essential to completing the storyline of Episodes VIII and IX.

If we were Force Sensitive enough, we might have been able to perceive some of the answers on our own and to just “let them in”. But we’re not. So here goes:

1. KYLO REN 1: Why does he wear a mask? Unlike his grandfather-hero, Lord Vader, Kylo does not need the mask to breathe and to otherwise keep him alive. Is the mask meant to emulate Vader and to intimidate opponents? Or is it simply part of his armament and for protection in battle?

2. KYLO REN 2: After being injured and dripping blood, why does Kylo thump his side when fighting Finn and Rey?

3. KYLO REN 3: As a leader of the Knights of Ren, why does Kylo have such strong anger-management problems? He acknowledges to his father, Han Solo, that he is in much pain. Could the answer simply be, as a new Twitter account suggests, that Kylo is – gasp! – simply an EMO wreck? (And if you’re not sure what EMO is, go buy some dark eyeliner and click HERE). Kylo Ren emo

4. HARRISON FORD finally got his death wish. In the original trilogy, Harrison Ford had asked George Lucas to kill off his Han Solo character, but Lucas demurred. Three decades later, J.J. Abrams has finally granted Ford’s wish.

5. WHO WILL AVENGE HAN SOLO’S DEATH? If Kylo can be redeemed and if it is true than he is simply a puppet, then Chewie and Leia can train all their energies on Supreme Leader Snope. But is this the blind love of a mother, or does Leia truly Force Feel something in her son? Otherwise why would she have sent Han on a fool’s errand, knowing how dangerous Kylo is? On the other hand, if Kylo is beyond redemption, who will take him down? Luke? Chewie? Rey? Or most heartwrenching of all, will Leia have to choose between saving her twin brother, Luke, or her own son, Kylo, in a final confrontation?

6. In the end credits, MARK HAMILL RECEIVED SECOND BILLING AFTER HARRISON FORD. Why? Hamill was paid millions to appear for only a couple minutes in TFA. Yet he had no speaking part and simply had to don a costume, standing atop one of the Skellig Islands (Ireland) to be filmed by a helicopter. Should Carrie Fisher (who acted and had major dialogue) have received second billing instead? And what about Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn), the protagonists and new heroes of Star Wars, who carried the film?

[Footnote: According to Variety, Ford was paid $10 to $20 million, while both Hamill and Fisher received a fraction of that, but still in the “low seven figure range.” By contrast, Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) only received somewhere between $100,000 to $300,000 each as newcomers and because of their lower negotiating power.]

7. Vocal Dissonance: If you see a muscular he-man, you expect to hear a deep, macho voice. If you see a pretty lady, you might expect a soothing, sultry voice. And if you see a child, you would expect to hear a high-pitched voice. But when the voices do not match the face, our brains are disturbed by the vocal dissonance. So what happens when we first see and hear Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on TFA – and their voices are noticeably gravel-y, even sometimes a bit hoarse? Vocal dissonance. This is the reality of the aging process. But no matter, we love them all the same, and probably even more. They are older and more vulnerable. And it hurts when we lose them in the end.

8. Who are REY’S PARENTS and why was she abandoned on Jakku? Echoes of the twin babies, Luke and Leia, being orphaned on separate worlds, perhaps?

9. How many PARALLELS BETWEEN A NEW HOPE AND THE FORCE AWAKENS did you count? And we’re not just talking about similar sandy, desert planets; moisture vaporators; and abandoned youth. Keep counting.

10. Was CAPTAIN PHASMA really consigned to the garbage compacter? Such a waste of chrome. Is she a one-and-done character, similar to Darth Maul, who we will never see again?

11. Who is SUPREME LEADER SNOPE, and why is his hologram so damn big? Will he turn out to be a tiny runt alien, much like the charlatan wizard hiding behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz (1939). We first speculated about Snope in an earlier June, 2015, article HERE.

12. GENERAL HUX and KYLO REN obviously dislike one another and argue over strategy and tactics. In TFA, Hux wasted no time in throwing Kylo under the bus when pointing out his faults to Supreme Leader Snope. But which of the two minions will be the first to die in Episodes VIII or IX?

13. DROIDS 1: What happened to C-3PO’s arm, and why is it red?

14. DROIDS 2: Who is BB-8’s maker? If Anakin Skywalker built C-3PO and if R2-D2 is tied closely to Luke, does this mean BB-8 will forever be bonded to Rey?

15. DROIDS 3: BB-8’s appeal and cuteness factor are so strong that it’s a good bet we will be seeing him (her?) and other BB droids in the future. BB-9, BB-10, BB-11… you get the point.

16. DEATH STAR III: For all its many strengths, TFA did disappoint in one sense – the sense of déjà vu. We had already witnessed the just-in-time destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope (1977), and the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi (1983). But for J.J. Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan to introduce Starkiller Base, “an ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon” (according to starwars.com), this rehash left us scratching our heads. It’s really just another Death Star – but much bigger. But PLEASE: No more Death Stars. Three is enough.

17. The physics of Starkiller Base is another head-scratcher. This technological wonder supposedly has the ability to quickly drain a star of its energy in minutes, store all of that mind-boggling energy in some spectacular fuel cell (or whatever they call it), and discharge the energy in several focused beams? Riiiight…think we’ll go get some more popcorn.

18. And still the Resistance was able to take down another Death Star! When will the Empire/First Order ever learn?

Maz Loves Chewie
19. MAZ KANATA: We like the wise and aged Maz Kanata, but what does the future hold for her? Maz tells Rey that Luke’s lightsaber calls to her and that she must take it, but Rey panics and runs away. Later, in answer to Han’s question as to how Maz got the weapon, she says it’s an interesting question for another time. Logically, she will need to appear in Episode VIII to tell the tale of the missing lightsaber.

And let’s not forget: There’s still the intriguing question of her, ahemmm, interest in Chewbacca. Will she become MazBacca by Episode IX?

20. IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU OWN IT … or so the little signs in the curio stores tell us. But apparently neither Master Yoda nor Master Luke have read the signs. As soon as one of their pupils turns to the Dark Side (that would be Vader under Yoda’s tutelage, and Kylo under Luke’s), our Jedi instructors run far, far away into self-imposed exile. Why?

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